Written and Oral Torah

The Written and Oral Torah are two critical components of Torah. They are inseparable and although the Oral Torah can be reconstructed by the 13 Principles expounded by Rebbi Yishmael (Reish Sefer Toras Kohanim,) Torah by definition constitutes both.


 Importance of Written and Oral Torah

At the same time, the ultimate fulfilment of exertion in Torah is Torah Shebeal Peh (Oral Torah.) The reason why can be discerned by studying the differences and connection between the Pesach and Purim experiences.

“On Purim they fulfilled what they had accepted already” (Shabbos 88b)

What had they accepted?

Torah min hashamayim (from the Heavens)

  • Jews went down to Egypt in the times of Yaacov due to a famine in the Land of Cana’an
  • The macos (plagues) were a suspension of nature by Hashem (God) (see God in Judaism.) Eg. Barad (hail) was fire and water together.
  • The people had basically no input
  • The end of the Pesach experience, Matan Torah (the giving of Torah at Sinai on Shavuos) – Hashem held the mountain over their heads – kafa Hakadosh Baruch Hu aleihem es hehar kegigis (Shabbos 88a)

At best passive human input, at the least coercion.

Yad Hashem - Hand of God

What was the fulfillment of Purim?

Lo bashamayim hi- it is not in the heavens (Devarim 30:12)

  • Mordechai goes against the statues of the absolute monarch (at risk of life and limb to himself and the Jewish People.)

He determines the direction to follow thus manipulating the outcome through hidden hashgocha (Divine Providence) – venahapoch hu (it was turned around)(Megilas Esther 9:1.)

  • Esther decrees a fast on Pesach

Overriding at least one positive mitzvah (eating matzah) and the Jews follow her decree.

The ultimate fulfillment of Torah is Torah shebal peh – the determination of halacha (law) and hadracha (approach) by chachamim (sages) and the emunah (faith/ trust) of people in the chachamim – the human element of Torah.

This is evident at the splitting of the Yam Suf (Read Sea:) veyaaminu b’Hashem uveMoshe avdo (and they believed in Hashem and in Moshe (Moses) His servant,)(Shmos 14:31) virtually equating the trust in Hashem with that in His servants.

Yad Adam - Hand of Man

Turning Yad Adam into Yad H’

  • Yetzias Mitzrayim (exodus from Egypt) and Matan Torah as the creation of the Jewish People and the giving and initiation of their Constitution, had to be the Yad Hashem, the Source of everything – the Haggadah has no mention of Moshe.
  • Purim, as the ultimate fulfillment of the Torah, being the human input therein - to the point where the Megillah (story) becomes Torah Shebichtav (Written Torah) – the power to turn Yad Adam into Yad Hashem - The Megillah has no mention of Hashem.

Therefore we can see on the deepest level a relationship between Pesach and Purim – the Pur (lot) was drawn in Nissan for the month of Adar. Esther fasted on Pesach and the Jews were redeemed on Purim.

Pesach is Yad Hashem – thus we start the year understanding Hashem is the foundation of everything and end the year putting this knowledge into the world of action. Thus the mizvos (practices) of Purim are all action based.

So we see a beautiful illustration of the symbiosis of the Written and Oral Torah.


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